The Russian Orthodox Church announced Monday that it is suspending ties with the U.S. Episcopal Church over its consecration of an openly gay bishop, saying that homosexuality is a sin and that it "cannot condone the perversion of human nature."
"Homosexual sexual contact has always been considered a grave sin by the Christian Church," the Russian Orthodox Church's Moscow Patriarchate said in a statement posted on its Web site. "Biblical passages that condemn homosexuality are clear and unequivocal."
The statement said the consecration of the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, the Reverend V. Gene Robinson, had "forced" the Russian Orthodox Church to "freeze its relations" with the Episcopal Church USA. "We see a big danger to modern man in the processes taking place in the American Episcopal Church and in certain other Christian communities of the Western world," it says. "People are gradually getting used to the idea that homosexuality is not a deviation, not a perversion, but just one form of 'love' that even the Church blesses."
The Russian Orthodox Church, which is dominant in Russia and has flocks in other former Soviet republics, also criticized the Episcopal Church USA over a vote last summer allowing local dioceses to continue deciding for themselves about holding blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. "All this leads to a terrible consequence: people with normal sexual orientation are introduced to homosexuality," the statement said.